Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Quick Notes on the Black Trial

Well, law school is done, which means PLVQ can start (hopefully) posting with a degree of regularity once again.

I've been following with interest, in the little spare time I have, the trial of Lord Black in Chicago. While I don't have too much to add to the extensive and incisive ink-spilling over this trial, today, notably, the prosecution dropped a charge of money laundering against Black, on the eve of the close of its case.

While most (all?) of those executives who have been implicated in recent American financial scandals (Enron, Worldcom, etc.) have engaged in fraudulent activities - misstating profits, par example - there are little if any analogous allegations in the case against Black and his co-accused, and no evidence has been presented to date at the trial that places Black in the class of individuals like Bernie Ebbers.

After introducing an unimpressive array of witnesses - whose collective feet have been placed at the fire by Edward Greenspan, one of the most recognised and effective cross-examiners among the Canadian bar - one cannot help but wonder whether the prosecution (and the U.S. government) have gone one trial too far in their crusade to enforce certain standards of "corporate governance" within American corporations.

If Lord Black is ultimately exonerated, it hopefully will give the American government an opportunity to reflect upon whether it is really its role to "protect" shareholders from the day-to-day business transactions of executives, or whether its many intercessions have resulted in the destruction of value for shareholders (through the public fallout from investigations, prosecutions, and the like) rather than its protection - which such forays into courtrooms purport to advance.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Rae of Liberal Lite

Confirming what everyone already knew, the placeholder portends an imminent announcement of the former Ontario Premier's intention to seek the Liberal leadership.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Equivocation of Ignatieff

It appears that Michael Ignatieff, the globetrotting ex-patriate and putative saviour of the Liberal Party of Greater Toronto, is set to launch his bid for the party leadership next week after his appearance yesterday at the University of Ottawa.

What I expected with Ignatieff's leadership bid was an elevation of political discourse within the Liberal Party, given his impressive CV and credentials. However, his support for the Iraq War, and his realist perspective on international relations, have put him at odds with the left of his party, which has been typified more for its anti-Americanism and opposition to Canadian military involvement in foreign theatres.

And how did Ignatieff manage the clash between Ivory Tower idealism and the proclivities of his base? Not by leading the party away of its past, but by capitulating to it.

In yesterday's speech, he waffled on his support for the Iraq War...

"In view of where Chrétien was in 2003, I think he did the right thing for Canada," Ignatieff told the Star in an interview.

He pointed out that he "wasn't in Mr. Chrétien's shoes" at the time and favoured the ouster by force of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, whom Ignatieff called "a Grade A, top-tier human rights monster."

But he tried to close the book on the issue by adding: "Going forward, I don't want to send Canadian troops into harm's way unless I'm pretty sure it's got Canadian public support. Period."

...and denigrated the country in which he lived for a half-decade, ostensibly to illustrate his 'Canadian' credentials:

"I respect American institutions but I don't want to live in a country where 40 million citizens don't have health care," he said to strong applause during a question-and-answer session with his audience. And he said he didn't like being part of an American society with capital punishment and where "a woman's right to choose is still a battleground" and same-sex marriage is not protected by law.

I appreciate the delicate balancing of interests required when aiming to lead the Grits, a party which occupies almost the whole of the political spectrum. But I can't help but think -- if Ignatieff's comments are any indication -- that the Liberal leadership race, instead of being a reinvigoration of a party which presently stands for nothing, has already decided what it wants to be in the future: more of the same.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Seal Hunt = WWII Gas Chambers = One Forgotten Celebrity Seeking Attention

Joining the ever-growing chorus of washed-up rock stars protesting the North Atlantic seal hunt, 1980s rocker Morrissey (formerly of "The Smiths" fame) is boycotting Canada during his forthcoming tour. In an unnecessary affront to victims of the Nazi regime, he commented:

"The Canadian Prime Minister also states that the slaughter is necessary because it provides jobs for local communities, but this is an ignorant reason for allowing such barbaric and cruel slaughter of beings that are denied life simply because somebody somewhere might want to wear their skin. Construction of German gas chambers also provided work for someone - this is not a moral or sound reason for allowing suffering."

I suppose if all the Canadian seal hunt has to worry about are the diatribes of moral superiority emanating from former celebrities desperate for attention, then it will likely continue its viability as an industry.

Oh, and of course, Morrissey's new album is released today. Coincidence?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Liberals and Martin Rewrite History

It appears as if even the Liberal Party is ignoring the forgettable, directionless nature of Paul Martin's tenure as Prime Minister. His new biography, appearing on the Grit website, includes two whole paragraphs devoted to his years in opposition and numerous references to his time as Finance Minister.

Oddly, the only reference to his prime ministership is the web address ( More ink is spilled about his father's accomplishments as Minister of Everything than Mr. Martin's own time at the top.


Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

Mr. Martin is the Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Émard in Montreal, Quebec. He was first elected federally in 1988. In 1990, he ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada and finished second at the leadership convention.

From 1991 to 1993, Mr. Martin was associate finance critic and critic for the environment for the Liberal opposition in the House of Commons. In 1993, he played a key role in developing the Liberal platform for the federal election and co-authored Creating Opportunity: The Liberal Plan for Canada, better known as the “Red Book.”

Liberals were returned to power in the 1993 vote and Mr. Martin was sworn in as Minister of Finance. He served in that role from November 1993 until June 2002.

In the months leading up to the November 2003 Liberal Leadership Convention, Mr. Martin garnered unprecedented support from Liberals right across the country.

During his time as finance minister, Canada recorded five consecutive budget surpluses, erased a $42 billion deficit, paid down more than $36 billion in debt, invested in health care and other key priorities and put in place the largest tax cuts in Canadian history.

As Canada’s finance minister, Mr. Martin was highly regarded on the world stage and represented Canada at a series of international summits. In September 1999, he was named inaugural chair of the G-20, an international group composed of G-7 nations and emerging market nations. He is respected internationally in part for his leadership in forging a new world financial order in which emerging economies would be prevented from plunging into ruinous financial crises.

He co-chaired, alongside former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, the United Nations Commission on the Private Sector and Development. The commission was struck to recommend ways to boost indigenous entrepreneurship in developing nations and then implement a number of related pilot projects.

Mr. Martin was born in Windsor, Ontario in 1938. He has a sister, Mary Anne. His father, a distinguished Parliamentarian, died in 1992. (His mother, Eleanor (“Nell”), died in 1993.)

The Honourable Paul Martin Sr. has been an enduring influence. He served almost a quarter century in Liberal cabinets under four different Prime Ministers: William Lyon Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He was an influential cabinet minister and is regarded as an architect of post-war social policy that is an enduring part of the Liberal legacy.

Mr. Martin studied philosophy and history at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the University of Toronto Law School. He was called to the bar in Ontario in 1966.

Before entering politics, he had a distinguished career in the private sector as a business executive at Power Corporation of Canada, in Montreal, and as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canada Steamship Lines. In addition, he has been active with a wide range of community and service organizations.

He married Sheila Ann Cowan in 1965. Their first son, Paul, was born in 1966. Their second son, Jamie was born three years later and their youngest son, David, was born in 1974.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Another Projection

Just so PLVQ gets to hedge a bit, here are my projections:

CON: 134
LIB: 77
NDP: 35
BLOC: 61

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Tomorrow Night's Lotto 308 Numbers

Cautiously optimistic (I have broken this down riding-by-riding but won't post them):

137 Conservative
75 Liberal
36 NDP
59 Bloc
1 Independent (Portneuf)

Political Post-Mortem on Both Pauls Martin

Doug Fisher, Dean of the Ottawa Press Gallery, has a piece today depicting the fall of the present Prime Minister, arguing that it is merely a continuation of the failed leadership ambitions of his own father, Ministerial Everyman Paul Martin, Sr.

Fisher takes the words out of my mouth--I've been saying for years that Martin Jr.'s real reason for contesting the Liberal leadership twice was to achieve the prize that so eluded his father. Sadly for both, once Martin the Younger got there, he had no idea what to do with it.